One of the most memorable Christmases I’ve enjoyed over the years came about six years ago.
My daughter, who was in high school at the time, was a proud horse owner and we were boarding the horse at a facility on 64 Avenue just off 232 Street which is now being run by the Balisky family, who are associated with Thunderbird Equestrian Centre.
At that time, it was leased by a family from Fort Langley who had numerous horses and other animals. They were more interested in taking care of their animals than making a lot of money.
We couldn’t have asked for a finer family to board our horse with. The mother and three daughters were all great.
As those who own animals know, Christmas is just another day when it comes to taking care of them. They still need to be fed and watered, and in the case of horses and other large animals, the stalls still need cleaning. Rubber boots, pitchforks and wheelbarrows get just as much use on that day as on any other.
This particular Christmas day was a mild and dry one. The sun was out and it was a perfect Lower Mainland Christnas, as far as I am concerned. There’s nothing like a green Christmas here — particularly a dry green Christmas.
Christmas dinner that day was at my sister’s house, not too far from the farm, so we left the festivities for a while to go and tend to the horse. My father, who grew up on a farm and has always liked farm animals, came along with us.
It was a great opportunity to spend time together, enjoy the beauty of Langley and marvel at this wonderful piece of property that we were privileged to have use of.
That particular property has to be seen to be believed, but it is more like a Cariboo ranch than a Langley farm. The property has both lowlands and highlands, going as far south as 56 Avenue and east almost to 240 Street.
The boarders had full use of most of this property for riding, in addition to a good training ring with jumps. It was a terrific place for a teenaged girl to enjoy the benefits of a horse, bond with the animal and learn responsibility.
Her parents also enjoyed the horse, even though neither of us are experienced riders. Horses have a particular way of connecting with human beings that is unique, and they offer companionship at a deep level.
I’ll never forget that Christmas there, spent cleaning out the barn and giving the horse some extra Christms treats. I can still see the sun shining on the trees and the barn, and smell the hay and grain
My daughter no longer owns a horse. She has just finished four years of university and, as of Christmas Day, is off to continue working with a foundation in Sierra Leone, West Africa, that she set up several years ago.
She had often told us that the responsibilities she had with the horse prepared her for what she does today. The horse phase of her life also enriched us.